The Future of the Internet in 2014


In 2014 the dominant discussions about the future of the internet cover some topics which have been discussed in previous posts and others have newly appeared or experienced significant developments. The following video provides an overview:

Belief that the internet is now in its second stage (Web 2.0) continues and discussion about the nature of the next phase (Web 3.0) maintains its focus on the Internet of Things. Security, privacy and internet freedom have increased in prominence in the discussion on the internet’s future. There is an increased sense that the direction of development is currently being determined in these areas as Bruce Schneier argues:

The Internet Society’s scenarios for the future of the internet remain current and can be viewed in my previous post on this topic. The Internet of Things dominates the corporate focus on the future of the internet:

The major corporate technology companies have articulated their visions of the future, which are, not surprisingly, based on their technological development foci. The following selection of videos provides an interesting collective visualisation of the not distant future:

Microsoft

Google

IBM

Intel

Cisco

Corning

Ericsson

Nokia

Samsung

Siemens

The Pew Research Centre in collaboration with Elon University recently produced a report based on discussions with internet researchers and individuals on their views of what the internet will be like in 2025. Their research identified “Hopeful Theses” and “Less Hopeful Theses”:

Hopeful:

•Information sharing over the Internet will be so effortlessly interwoven into daily life that it will become invisible, flowing like electricity, often through machine intermediaries.

•The spread of the Internet will enhance global connectivity that fosters more planetary relationships and less ignorance.

•The Internet of Things, artificial intelligence, and big data will make people more aware of their world and their own behavior.

•Augmented reality and wearable devices will be implemented to monitor and give quick feedback ondailylife, especially tied to personal health.

•Political awareness and action will be facilitated and more peaceful change and public uprisings like the Arab Spring will emerge.

•The spread of the ‘Ubernet’ will diminish the meaning of borders, and new ‘nations’ of those withsharedinterests may emerge and exist beyond the capacity of current nation-states to control.

•The Internet will become “the Internets” as access, systems, and principles are renegotiated

•An Internet-enabled revolution in education will spread more opportunities, with less money spent on real estate and teachers.

Less Hopeful:

•Dangerous divides between haves and have-nots may expand,  resulting in resentment and possible violence.

•Abuses and abusers will ‘evolve and scale.’ Human nature isn’t changing; there’s laziness, bullying, stalking, stupidity, pornography, dirty tricks, crime, and those who practice them have new capacity to make life miserable for others.

•Pressured by these changes, governments and corporations will try to assert power—and  at times succeed—as they invoke security and cultural norms.

•People will continue—sometimes grudgingly—to make tradeoffs  favoring convenience and perceived immediate gains over privacy; and privacy  will be something only the upscale will enjoy.

•Humans and their current organizations may not respond quickly enough  to challenges presented by complex networks.

•Most people are not yet noticing the profound changes today’s communications networks are already bringing about; these networks will be even more disruptive in the future.

• Foresight and accurate predictions can make a difference; ‘The best way to predict the future is to invent it.

It is unclear what the actual direction of internet development will be – the theses indicate areas of concern that action may be appropriate on and areas of hope that may bring significant benefits to society.

The final area of recent consideration is the impact that the internet will have on people. The debate over whether the internet is making people stupid continues. In other developments Terence McKenna presents an interesting view of the impact of Virtual Realities and argues that these will enable closer relationships as we share more of our dreams with each other:

While Amber Case continues to research our use of devices, arguing that we are all Cyborg’s now:

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